Race Report: YMCA Spring Run
This post was originally written for r/AdvancedRunning.
- What? YMCA Spring Run
- When? May 28, 2017
- How far? 20 km
- Where? Brandon, MB
- Website: http://www.ymcabrandon.ca/programs/spring-run/ (… moose sighting)
- Strava activity: https://www.strava.com/activities/1009915579
A: Sub 80 / 1:20
B: Top 3
I talked about my training at some length in a previous report, if you’re interested. Basically, I’m doing a Daniels’ 2Q Marathon Plan at 90-100k per week. This race was a tune-up 3 weeks from my goal race, the Manitoba Marathon.
This is one of the only local races where I live, and it started at 8 o’clock so I had quite a bit of leeway in the morning. Naturally, I still woke up at 3:30 AM. I tried to get back to sleep to no avail, but thankfully the Sunday Discussion Thread was posted a couple hours later so I was able to browse Reddit for a while and complain about the wind. I knew that wind was in the forecast but it was dead still when I woke up. I had a bagel with peanut butter, two coffees, and water before I left my place in my race gear and a warmup shirt. I got to the start line at about 7:30, but I had to wait a little bit for a friend so I could give her her race kit. With 15 minutes to spare I ran around the block a few times and then headed to the starting area 5 minutes before the gun, continuing my tradition of absolutely horrible warmups. It’s not a huge race so I was able to get to the front with the rest of the 20k runners (21 of us total) without any problems. I knew there was at least 1 guy who would be competing for the win, and we chatted a little bit about pace. I knew he would go out faster than I planned to so I didn’t say much about my goal pace. You can probably tell from the starting line that I was going to be running a lot of this thing solo.
My basic plan was to go out at HM pace and try to hold on. I decided right away that I wasn’t going to chase for the win from the start, but stay consistent and hope that anyone in front of me would fade while I stayed on pace. I knew from a HM race three weeks ago that my endurance and strength are as good as they’ve ever been, so I had a lot of confidence that I could run the second half of the race just as well, if not better, than the first half.
Sure enough, we go out fast (3:30-40) and I try to get in a rhythm. By about a half-kilometre I calm down a bit and by this time the leader has already gapped me just as I expected; he’s running 3:45s and I’m running 4:00s, and no one else running the 20k is hanging around at that pace. After 2 kilometres I’m passed by the 10k leader and the 5k leader, the latter of whom is absolutely gasping for breath and asking who’s ahead of me. I tell him that the 20k and 10k leader are, and he says “You are on a ridiculous pace!” between the heaviest gasps for air I’ve ever heard. Nonetheless, he’s a younger guy basically running 3:30s, so I’m not going match him. I find out later that he won the 5k in sub-18 or so. I guess I won’t have to worry about him unless he moves up in distance.
The course is basically 2 5k loops that you run twice each. The middle 5k of the first time around was with a tailwind, which made it pretty easy to stay on pace. I wasn’t worried about catching the leader but I wanted to keep him in sight, just to give myself a chance. I knew that the biggest tests of the race would come at 8 and 16k, where there’s a 500 metre hill with a 25 metre climb. Before the hill I was in an excellent rhythm, between 3:55 - 4:00, but my pace dipped to 4:30 on the hill. It could’ve been worse but I knew I didn’t quite have the hill training I needed to power through at race pace, and I know that I need to add hills to my training anyway. I followed up the hill with a 4:10 km and then eventually got my pace back down to 4:00 - 4:05, even though we’re now running into a headwind.
I knew that the middle 5k stretch into a headwind was going to be the hardest part to stay on race pace. Normally, I struggle with wind during tempo and interval workouts, but I didn’t run anything slower than 4:06 so it couldn’t have been that bad. My goal was to basically survive this part of the race so I could get to the second 5k stint with a tailwind. I picked back up to about 3:55 pace and my 15k split was around 59:30 or something around there. I tried to surge a bit as I came through the 15k timing mat but once I turned the corner to go back out to the east end I just didn’t have it in me to run any faster than 4:00. My last 5k was unimpressive, with a 4:29 on that ridiculous hill and a 4:14 to follow. The leader was probably a minute ahead at this point. I had known for a while that I had no chance to make up the difference but I still had a shot at going under 1:20, so I closed as hard as I could and crossed the finish line in 2nd at 1:19:51.
After I finished, I congratulated the winner on his race. Friends of mine were also at the finish line so we chatted a bit while complaining about the wind and the massive hill. I had some gatorade and water while I waited for my first-ever podium medal. It was a race of 21 people but I’ll take it.
Two years ago I ran this same race in 1:33:39. The winner of that year finished at least 12 minutes before me, and I remember someone dismissing my time and placement by saying that “12 minutes is a lot at the level.” I will never forget that comment, and I’ll enjoy my 14 minute improvement until I’m moving on to the next goal. Three weeks until the Manitoba Marathon!